WASHINGTON -- A childhood spent as a couch potato produces an inactive adult more open than others to such chronic ailments as heart disease, a health advocacy group said Wednesday.
Issuing a set of guidelines, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education said physical activity should start early and continue throughout life.
It recommended that healthy elementary schoolchildren be encouraged to take part in vigorous and varied physical activity for at least an hour a day and longer if possible.
"Extended periods of inactivity are not appropriate for normal, healthy children," according to the guidelines compiled by Charles B. Corbin and Robert P. Pangrazi of the Department of Exercise Science at Arizona State University at Tempe.
Association director Judy Young said: "Inactive children and youth are much more likely to be sedentary as adults than children and youth who are active."
"Since most chronic illnesses such as heart disease are a result of cumulative unhealthy lifestyles, what is done in childhood and youth affects health and functioning later in life," the fitness report said.